The Secrets to Sensational Foreplay
The first thing that struck me and my beloved as we delved into Laura Ross’s The Secrets to Sensational Foreplay is that reading a book about foreplay is not nearly as much fun as foreplay itself. Perhaps it’s just because I was perusing with a critical eye, but book’s bedroom presence precluded much action. You could argue that in this case Ross achieved the opposite of the cover’s bold claim: the provision of ‘stronger orgasms, and longer, better sex’.
Further, I couldn’t help but notice that our sexpert divulged information that wasn’t so much ‘secret’ as blindingly obvious: ‘The word sensual is sometimes used interchangeably with sexual. The two are certainly related, but sensual really refers to the five senses.’ She is also unnervingly interested in adopting politicised jargon – ‘Pretending to be somebody else for a little while can be extremely liberating’, ‘Self-pleasuring can be empowering’ – as well as nonsensical and vague whimsy: foreplay is about ‘imbuing everything you do with sexual energy – making the world a sexy place day and night’.
So far, so sex guide; it’s never erotic to bring an instruction manual to bed, and they’re rarely literary masterpieces. But – having established that in the realms of the written word Thomas Hardy this is not – I was interested that the book discussed foreplay as a category in its own right, rather than restricting it to the introductory chapter.
Unlike most sex guides, The Secrets to Sensational Foreplay reaches for the genitals a third of the way through the book; instead, it focuses on flirting, kissing and touching. The opening chapters highlight the ways in which sex begins long before the bedroom door is flung open for passionately entwined lovers to fall through: a held gaze, a lingering kiss or a suggestive touch in a crowded room all initiate erotic thoughts and feelings which, as part of foreplay, get the ball rolling, so to speak. Ross talks her readers through seducing with body language, perfecting the art of kissing, and getting one’s partner hot under the collar with sexy texts, notes and teasing promises before work.
When we eventually get to the really naughty bits, the book embraces edgier ideas than many mainstream sex guides. Cock rings, nipple clamps, hot wax and strap-ons feature in the sex toys section alongside the usual reams of dildos, vibrators and blindfolds. The advice on taking foreplay outside the bedroom encourages you to get it on almost anywhere there is likely to be a secluded spot, with little of the usual sexperts’ eye for decorum. Also included are descriptions of the male and female sex organs accompanied by useful diagrams, complete with Latinate labelling reminiscent of a schoolgirl’s science homework. While the descriptions occasionally get a little Fanny Hill as Ross indulges in yet more dewy-eyed whimsy (‘the vaginal opening is that freeway to paradise’, the ‘lovely exterior pubic mound’, ‘the delta of her deep, fertile river’ etc.), it is useful to have the opposite gender’s anatomy explained in the context of foreplay: many sex guides go in quest of deeply buried G-spots, while Ross guides you around the external erogenous zones.
Throughout, The Secrets to Sensational Foreplay is illustrated with pictures of nubile young things posed on the verge of sexual interaction. Now, as spoilt for choice in explicit imagery as I am here at Erotic Towers, I feel it never harms to see a little more. I have complained before that the pictures sex guides aren’t brave enough, and this book is no different. The genital diagrams are all headless line drawings spread-eagled for our anatomical education, and the photos show an array of bums and boobs, pleasingly pert yet coldly chaste. And, for a lady, both frustratingly female and evidently enhanced. A lass with her silicone tits out looking at a cock ring with feigned interest as a male nude reclines with Patroclus-like coyness is not a fitting illustration of how the contraption works.
The Secrets to Sensational Foreplay explores a variety of erotic possibilities that will get you and your partner gagging for it. It is smutty in its suggestions and admirable in its aim to enhance the fun of foreplay. If only they could have found some models who looked like they were actually enjoying themselves.
The Secrets to Sensational Foreplay by Laura Ross; Quiver; ISBN 978-1-59233-428-5; £14.99